Washington was at the forefront of a gun-violence prevention law. Here’s how it’s played out

Washington was at the forefront of a gun-violence prevention law. Here’s how it’s played out

Semi-automatic rifles are displayed on a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood. (Associated Press files) It’s a scalpel, not a hammer. That’s how Eric Pisconski, the acting lieutenant of the Seattle Police Department’s Crisis Response Unit, thinks of the state law that allows law enforcement officers and family or household members to petition a superior court judge for an extreme risk protection order, commonly known as an ERPO. It’s a two-stage, civil legal process to remove guns from peoples’ possession and prevent them from purchasing or having access to new firearms for one year. “You’re looking at an imminent threat. We’re more concerned about threatening or violent behavior and it can be to yourself or other people,” Pisconski said. “ERPO is designed for a small niche of the population that doesn’t fall into another category that would prohibit their eligibility” to legally possess firearms. Such laws — sometimes referred to as “red flag” laws — are having a renewed moment in the national spotlight. After a spate of recent mass shootings, President Joe Biden has directed the U.S. Justice Department to publish model legislation to make it easier for the roughly 30 states without such laws to enact them. Washington has been at the forefront of the issue, after voters in 2016 resoundingly approved such a measure at the ballot box, making the state the fourth one to enact an extreme risk protection law. In addition to giving police the legal authority to secure someone’s guns, ERPOs also […]

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